The other day, while tottering home in black velvet stilettos and a backpack that weighed more than a small child, I found myself waiting for a Mass. Ave. traffic light to change. After politely refusing two homeless persons’ solicitations, I occupied myself with the conversation next to me.
“I love that music!” said one girl, gesturing to that ubiquitous street musician who plays a gourd attached to a string.
“It’s pretty soulful,” her companion agreed.
“I kind of wish we could hear more music like that, instead of that stupid stuff on the radio,” said the first one, swishing her dirndl skirt involuntarily.
“I so agree with that,” said the other. At this point the light changed and they walked out of earshot.
This incident affected me deeply on my walk back. Hoisting my huge backpack to my opposite shoulder, I noticed the hordes of people wearing clothing apparently woven out of oatmeal, the flush of “Free Tibet” bumper stickers plastering Volvos, and the sheer numerical freakishness of hemp “jewelry.”
“Sweet Dorothy Parker!” I exclaimed. “Harvard’s full of Granolas!” In fact, it occurred to me that Granola may have been the fashion mantra of Cambridge since its inception. Heck, even the Puritans were Granola.
For the uninitiated, or those who are not New England residents, the general characteristics of a Granola person are as follows: “Very Liberal” designations on their facebook.com profiles, a love of international causes of any kind, an irrational hatred of perfectly good pop music, and a penchant for clothes made out of recycled detritus.
But, as with any movement, the splinter groups within the Granola faction are endless and rife with variation. I offer the following sub-groupings of our neo-hippie brethren, along with corresponding Body Odor Warning Levels (aka BOWLs):
The Hiking “Nature is My
If you find yourself unable to resist calling someone “really outdoorsy,” the person you’re describing probably falls into this category. Unless the person is a backwoods militia member. Nature is My Temple types are earth-children who enjoy collecting leaves and “orienteering.” You can spot these gentle creatures swimming in lakes, snowshoeing, and peeing without toilet paper. These people refuse to brush their hair. They don’t shave their legs either, because depriving your body of its natural hairs is like cutting down the rainforests. BOWL: High—going poo in the woods and sleeping in your socks make you smell like a poo-filled sock.
The Urban “I Enjoy Getting Arrested at Protests For Third World Countries” Granola:
The Urban Granola is oftentimes spotted wearing flowing, ill-fitting pants while trying to have a conversation about Friedrich Engels. Such situations are challenging (because of the pants—I mean, any fool can understand Engels), and for this reason, Urban Granolas are the most determined little buggers you will ever meet. In every rally, they’re always the ones getting arrested, and they’re always exposing their hairy armpits while the authorities cart them away. However, they do have a spiritual, contemplative side, which manifests itself in veganism, Le Tigre CD’s, pilgrimages to India, and facebook friends at Antioch College. BOWL: Low—they buy lots of Fair Trade soaps and exfoliate themselves with Ugandan seed-oils.
The Musical “My Band is About Social Justice” Granola:
This Granola can be seen in schoolyards everywhere, playing “No Woman, No Cry” on the acoustic guitar. While they strum, they usually sport all manner of hats, mostly ones made out of knit material, but also hand-me-downs from the Bolshevik Army.
They think their clothing is pretty “cool,” but what they think is even cooler is their love of marijuana. And listening to King Crimson while smoking it. Who are King Crimson, anyway? And how did they steal our school color? BOWL: Moderate—they don’t wash often, but they walk about in a cloud of patchouli, so it all balances out.
Joining the legions of this exalted flock can be fun, challenging, and most of all exciting. In order to do so without looking like a freak, I give you:
1) Do not go bra-less. It’s painful and a bit too retro for the sensibilities of modern-day Granola men and women.
2) Do not put random patches in your clothes if there are no holes.
3) Do not put a “Stop Violence” pin on your back pack. No one will note the reference and then actually stop violence.